Why the Russian invasion of Ukraine should be the end of Alex Salmond and Alba

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Among many uncertainties connected with the escalating Ukraine crisis, one certainty is the Russian invasion should be the end of Alex Salmond and Alba as a serious political force in Scotland.

Alba, set up last year to contest the Holyrood election and in an attempt to revive the flatlining political career of Mr Salmond, has the closest links to Russia of any party in Scotland.

These links are not necessarily financial – there is no evidence of major donations from Russian figures to the party – but Alba are the only party whose leader hosts a regular talk show on Russia’s state-controlled TV channel, RT (formerly Russia Today).

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With Sir Keir Starmer calling for RT to be shut down and defence secretary Ben Wallace’s withering comments on Mr Salmond’s association with the channel, it's time for the former first minister to choose between his TV career and his continued political career.

Alex Salmond continues to present on RT, formerly Russia Today.Alex Salmond continues to present on RT, formerly Russia Today.
Alex Salmond continues to present on RT, formerly Russia Today.

Mr Wallace, speaking on Monday, poked the Alba bear, saying Mr Salmond could “do an in-depth analysis” of false claims from Russia on his TV show, adding “I’m sure he’s open to the highest bidder”.

It is worth remembering in this discussion the former SNP leader and first minister’s reputation and credibility helps promote RT and legitimise its propaganda.

This is not a victimless crime. Talking points promoted by RT are repeated by political figures worldwide, undermining opposition to Russian aggression and helping to justify Vladimir Putin’s actions.

Last week one of Alba’s two MPs, Neale Hanvey, said there was a “determined hyping” of the threat of war in Ukraine by the West, without once mentioning Russia or Mr Putin in the near 200-word statement.

On Tuesday he condemned the “violation” of Ukraine’s “territorial integrity”, adding the task must be to “ensure respect” for Ukraine’s rights and the rights of the Russian speaking minority, alongside “Russia’s own security interests”.

He added: “That requires our acceptance that assurances were offered in the 1990s about Nato expansion eastward, which have not been kept.”

It speaks volumes of Alba’s lack of political breakthrough in Scotland that there is not more condemnation of its leadership’s involvement with RT as the Ukraine crisis continues to escalate and episodes of the Alex Salmond Show continue to be broadcast.

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Until that ends, Mr Salmond’s political career should be considered finished.

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